Lisa Fabrizio
September 9, 2004
Is there a spin doctor in the house?
By Lisa Fabrizio

William J. Clinton lies recuperating in a hospital in New York while John F. Kerry's candidacy continues to hemorrhage out on the hustings, badly in need of a transfusion. The causes seem eerily similar; the cumulative effects of past bad habits catching up and waylaying the two Democrats. The former apparently felled by a history of poor eating habits and the latter by history itself.

If you're Bill Clinton, the timing of your infirmity couldn't be better, really. It is almost commonly acknowledged that your blushing bride yearns to be the 44th president in 2008, bikini season's over and this guy Kerry's shaping up to be quite a loser. All in all a good time to be holed up in a stress-free environment for say, the next fifty days or so.

As the race to the true fall classic enters its stretch run, the Donkey team finds itself in a slump. They went to bat in Boston but failed to even dent the Pesky Pole while the Elephants went yard in the Big Ballpark in New York. And now that their ace pitchman is on the disabled list, they've found it necessary to go to the bullpen to shore up a spotty staff.

In a desultory show of support, Bubba dispatched former members of his war-room to put some teeth into the Kerry effort, sending the likes of Howard Wolfson, James Carville, Joel Johnson and Joe Lockhart back into the fray for the stretch run.

They quickly leapt into operation as news of a ninety-minute phone call from Clinton to Kerry was instantaneously leaked to the press; his message? "Stop talking about Vietnam and start focusing on domestic issues hey, it worked for me!"

Now a more cynical person than myself might suggest that Bill Clinton's insertion of himself into an already floundering campaign by sowing internal dissension is a tad disingenuous but according to our friends, the impartial arbiters at the New York Times, quite a catfight has already broken out.

Former White House aide Johnson, point man for the Clinton camp, addressed Kerry headquarters on Saturday and, "told the group that the campaign wanted the entire party to heed the new talking points. ' It's very simple. It's Bush has taken us in the wrong direction.'"

This friendly advice was not appreciated by those in the original campaign: "That's really groundbreaking," one senior aide said sarcastically when informed of Mr. Johnson's plan. He continued, "I think our negative frame should be that George Bush is a liar. He misled the country on Iraq. And then everything else that he lies about, bring it back to that."

Either way you look at it, the Democrats are apparently not planning as sunny and optimistic a final two months on the trail as they have heretofore produced. And if you believe them, that is what got them into this predicament to begin with; they've just been too darn nice and nave in dealing with the Republican hate juggernaut.

To that end, they've somehow summoned the strength to fight back with a little negativity of their own. To counter the growling indignation of bulldog Zell Miller, they dispatched the yapping Carville to say the Georgia senator made "a fool out of himself" by making "the most hate-filled speech" ever seen at a convention. Miller's challenging of Chris Matthews to a duel aside, the image I conjure is that of Foghorn Leghorn admonishing, "You're doin', ah say, you're doin' it all wrong, son!"

Other surrogates have been tilting at political windmills since the lights went dark at Madison Square Garden last week, more or less crying foul that the GOP dare fill in the blanks of Kerry's senate voting record. Also repulsive to their disjointed thinking is that any examination of that record smacks of questioning the Vietnam veteran's patriotism.

Senator Kerry on the other hand, never questions his opponent's patriotism; he merely calls Republican treatment of him "pathetic," "craven" and "stupid." Nor does quadrennial favorite Al Gore. Speaking of President Bush in an upcoming issue of the New Yorker, he states, "I think he is a bully, and, like all bullies, he's a coward when confronted with a force that he's fearful of."

Given that the last two Democratic presidential candidates are so cordial and gentlemanly in advancing the nation's political discourse, it therefore falls to the last successful one to restore dignity and fair play into the election cycle. No doubt that Bill Clinton will indeed intercede to win the day for his party, but don't be surprised if he performs a quadruple-year bypass on the way.

© Lisa Fabrizio

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Lisa Fabrizio

Lisa Fabrizio is a freelance columnist from Stamford, Connecticut. You may write her at mailbox@lisafab.com.

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